Pedro Rosselló: Wikis

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Pedro Rosselló

In office
January 2, 1993 – January 2, 2001
Preceded by Rafael Hernández Colón
Succeeded by Sila Calderón

Born April 5, 1944 (1944-04-05) (age 65)
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Political party New Progressive Party
Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Irma Margarita "Maga" Nevares
Profession Pediatrician
Religion Roman Catholic

Pedro Juan Rosselló González, M.D. (Spanish pronunciation: [roseˈʝo]; born April 5, 1944 in San Juan, Puerto Rico), served as the sixth Governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico from 1993 to 2001.

In 1988 Rosselló was an unsuccessful New Progressive Party (NPP) candidate for Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico. From 1990 to 1991 he successfully challenged former Governor and then-NPP President Carlos Romero Barceló for the NPP’s presidency. He was thereafter elected Governor of Puerto Rico in 1992 and re-elected by a wide margin in 1996. He also served as President of the Council of State Governments as well as Chairman of the Southern Governors' Association, and Democratic Governors Association. In 1999 he announced he would not seek a third term and retired from active politics in 2001.

In 2003 Rosselló made a comeback, winning the NPP's 2004 gubernatorial nomination in primaries against then-NPP President Carlos Pesquera. However, he lost the 2004 gubernatorial race to Aníbal Acevedo Vilá by a razor-thin margin. Soon after an elected NPP Senator from Arecibo resigned his seat and Rosselló filled the vacancy. From 2005 to 2006 Rosselló unsuccessfully sought to remove Senate President Kenneth McClintock from his seat and replace him. In 2008 Rosselló lost the NPP’s 2008 gubernatorial nomination by a wide margin to then-Resident Commissioner and current Governor Luis Fortuño. Thereafter he completed his term as Senator from Arecibo and retired from active politics. He currently resides in Virginia.

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Education and professional career

After completing his elementary and secondary education at Academia Santa Teresita and Academia del Perpetuo Socorro, both located in San Juan, Rosselló moved to the mainland United States to attend college. He earned his a Bachelor of Science degree, Magna Cum Laude at the University of Notre Dame in 1966, as well as academic distinctions for best student athlete. After graduation, he continued his studies in medicine at Yale University, which he completed in 1970, also graduating Magna Cum Laude. Later he specialized in general and pediatric surgery at Harvard University. Following his residency at Harvard, he practiced medicine in Puerto Rico while also attending the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus where he earned a Master's in Public Health (MPH) degree in 1981 (also graduating Magna Cum Laude). He later earned a graduate degree in Education from the InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico. During his college years, Rosselló became an avid tennis player that led him not only to be named the head of Notre Dame's men's tennis team, but also to play for Puerto Rico's national team in regional championships throughout the Caribbean.

Rosselló started his professional career alternating as an instructor at Harvard Medical School and as an assistant professor at the University of Puerto Rico, Medical Sciences Campus, where he would later become an associate professor.

He became Chief of Pediatric Surgery and later Chief Surgeon at the University of Puerto Rico Children's Hospital. In 1985, Rosselló was named Health Services Director for the city of San Juan by then Mayor Baltasar Corrada del Río.

Political career

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Run For Resident Commissioner

Rosselló began his political career in 1988 when he ran for the post of Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, (the island's non-voting observer/representative in the United States Congress) losing to Jaime Fuster of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD). Nevertheless, he was the candidate from the New Progressive Party (PNP) for whom the most votes were cast in the 1988 Elections. This positioned him well to become the party's next leader.

After leading a "Statehood Crusade" throughout the islands of Puerto Rico, in 1991 he became president of the PNP, successfully leading an opposition to a referendum sponsored by the then Governor of the island, Rafael Hernández Colón. In 1992 he successfully ran for Governor of Puerto Rico, defeating Victoria Muñoz Mendoza of the PDP.

Governor (1993-2001)

As governor, Rosselló launched an anti-crime campaign known as "Mano Dura Contra el Crimen" (literally, "Strong hand against crime") in which the Puerto Rico National Guard was used to assist state police due to the peak in the crime rates in his term especially peaking in 1996 . His administration was also characterized by involvement in big construction and other large-scale government projects which included a train system, dubbed Tren Urbano, and a massive aqueduct system which linked two major water reservoirs on the island although these proyects were filled with controversy. His policies also included a push toward privatization of public entities.

Under his administration, a healthcare reform bill was approved. He led two campaigns for Puerto Rican statehood in 1993 and 1998 in which locally-enacted plebiscites were held to consult the Puerto Rican public on the political status with the United States. He supported the congressional Young Bill, which sought to carry out a referendum in Puerto Rico to define the political status of the island. However, the bill died in committee in the Senate of the United States. Nevertheless, Rosselló carried out a non-binding plebiscite in 1998 which gave electors four options and a fifth None of the Above column. The opposing Popular Democratic Party led a campaign to boycott the plebiscite and called the electorate to vote for the None of the Above column. The boycott was successful, as the None of the Above column garnered 50.3% of the total votes.[1] This opposition was led by Aníbal Acevedo-Vilá, who in 2004 would defeat Rosselló in the gubernatorial elections.

In the 1996 elections he defeated rivals Héctor Luis Acevedo (PPD), who was mayor of San Juan at the time, and Representative David Noriega (PIP), winning a second term after obtaining more than one million votes and the largest victory margin since 1964.

In 1998, a 45% stake of the state-owned Puerto Rico Telephone Company (PRTC) was sold to a consortium led by GTE (now Verizon) and Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, led to a general strike organized by several labor unions. A similar attempt to privatize PRTC in 1988, under then Governor Rafael Hernández Colón, led to a similar strike which doomed the sale. At the time, Rosselló opposed the sale of PRTC by Rafael Hernández Colón. Later, as governor, he decided to sell. His reasoning was that PRTC held a monopoly of the telephone communications industry, therefore a highly profitable asset to the government. Due to implementation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which deregulated the monopolies many regional telephone and cable television companies held, the island's telecommunications were opened to competition. Since Rosselló did not view the government as a competitor in the open market, his administration deemed the sale of PRTC desirable and so proceeded. The sale price was 1.5 billion dollars, which union leaders described as "ridiculously low" (PRTC generated about a 100 million dollars of yearly profit at the time of the sale). PRTC had competed for many years with big companies and the technology already in place by PRTC would had cost other companies many billions of dollars to try and emulate.

Controversy and Criticism

Rossello was one of the most controversial governors in PR History. During his term he had great popularity due to a healthy economy mainly because the US and Global economic boom, although the economy grew less than his predecedor Hernandez Colon.During his term many large scale construction proyects initiated during his term although they were planned and approved before his term. His popularity dropped soon after his term due to economic stagnation and corruption scandals. Many blame Rossello for the current recession scenario due to the high growth of debt during his term,overbudget proyects like the urban train, privatization policies and the elimination of 936.

Vieques controversy

In April 1999, a U.S. Navy bomber misfired its missiles at a practice range and struck the main watch-post on the island of Vieques, killing David Sanes, a civilian employee of the navy. The protests that followed on the small island gathered international attention (see Navy-Vieques protests). Governor Rosselló supported the immediate exit of the navy, appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee pressing the Senators, among them John Warner and James Inhofe, to immediately take action so that the navy could withdraw its troops from the island. In 2000, Rosselló and then President Bill Clinton signed an agreement that the U.S. Navy would withdraw from Vieques by the year 2003, if voters in Vieques ratified the agreement in a referendum. The agreement included $40 million in public works in Vieques. After Clinton and Rosselló left office, the administration of the next Governor of Puerto Rico, Sila Calderón, preceded the federal sponsored referendum with a local one, a move favored by most residents. However, under increasing pressure President Bill Clinton ordered the Navy to leave Vieques, and the final withdrawal took place on May 1, 2003.

Retirement, return and election results (1999-2004)

In June 1999, Rosselló, embroiled in mounting scandals and controversies, announced he would not seek a third term in the elections of 2000. He moved to the Boston area where he taught on the faculty of the JFK School of Government at Harvard University. Later he moved to Virginia, where he first served as a fellow at the Wilson Center and later taught at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and George Washington University in Washington, DC. Rosselló claims he temporarily relocated to Virginia, but official records show Rosselló requested a Virginia driver's license and registered to vote in that state, a process which requires that the applicant swear that he is a resident of Virginia. In addition, he filed personal tax returns in Puerto Rico while living in Virginia in which he claimed he was not a permanent resident of the island.

One of the most controversial scandals was about his pension when he was about to retire from the Government. In official records, he had only about 29+, not the required 30 years of working in the Government and did not qualify for the full pension of over $85,000.00 per year, the so-called "Cadillac Pension". Howerver he tried to claim that in the summers of '64, '65 and '66, while was studying at Harvard, playing Tenis for the PRTA, that he "worked" in his father's office, at the Psycriatic Hospital, and thus, claiming nine additional monhs, to receive the Full "Cadillac Pension". The Health Department could not find any records of his "Summer Jobs", stating how coud he be at two places at the same time, as he were some type of "god" and denied him his false claim. Roselló alleged that the Government burned these "Summer Jobs" records and continued to push his claim. The Secretary of Justice at that time, Roberto Sanchez Ramos, indicted him for perjury and presenting a false claim and the case was brought up to three Roselló appointed Judges, and not all three had the guts to take him to court and droped the charges. By the end of this controversy, Roselló was elected Senator, which made him complete over 34 years of Government service and he, eventually, got his "Cadillac Pension" anyway.

In 2003, Rosselló returned to politics and won his party's nomination for the gubernatorial candidacy in a primary election against his successor as PNP leader, Carlos Pesquera. In the 2004 Puerto Rico Elections the PNP won majorities in both houses of the Legislature, the mayorships of 42 of the island's 78 municipalities and the Resident Commissioner post in the U.S. Congress. However Rosselló was defeated; the position of governor was given then to incumbent Resident Commissioner Aníbal Acevedo Vilá who won by a close margin, and a recount was requested as permitted by law.

Sample ballot for 2004 Gubernatorial Election, illustrates the Mixed Vote permissible under CEE Rule 50

During the recount period, Rosselló argued that certain ballots in which voters had made multiple marks were invalid. The ballots in question were cast both for the Puerto Rico Independence Party and Rosselló's New Progressive Party, with individual candidate marks in favor of Acevedo Vila as the candidate for governor of the Popular Democratic Party. The mark indicating the selection of a political party selects that party's slate of candidates by default, but the voter can also select individual candidates from other parties to replace candidates from the default slate.

In this case, the voter was voting for the PIP as a party for the purposes of stating party affiliation and for the PIP's default slate, but had decided to select individual candidates from other party's slates. This type of voting is identified by law in Rule 50 of the State Election Commission's rules, based on the Commonwealth's Electoral Law as amended in 2004, Title 2, Section 2.001, Subsection 3[1], as a "mixed vote" (this was not a valid mix vote, and it is no longer permitted as valid in the next elections of 2008. This ballot method was also allowed since it was never questioned and seen in the 1996 and 2000 elections, and had never been contested, either by the legislature or by the PNP's Electoral Commissioner. The individual votes for candidates not from the voter's selected party are then deducted from the votes given to the default candidates of the voter's party. The end result is a single vote per candidate, as the law states.

Although the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico had ruled 4-3 that the votes where valid and should be counted, and the marks Rosselló challenged were clearly legal under long standing legislation, Federal district judge Daniel Domínguez ordered the votes be counted but not tallied until he reached a final decision on the matter. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit would later determine the federal district court lacked jurisdiction on the matter.[2] The case was returned to the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico and the disputed votes were counted and tallied. On December 28, 2004 Acevedo-Vilá was certified as the elected Governor of Puerto Rico.

Senator (2004-2008)

Rosselló was able to gain a seat in the Senate of Puerto Rico when Victor Loubriel, an elected first-time district senator representing Arecibo, decided to quit his seat two days after being sworn. Opposition parties, and even people within Rosselló's own party, denounced the elected senator's resignation as being pressured by activists from his party so that Rosselló could fill in his vacancy thus providing him a platform from which to challenge the Acevedo-Vilá administration. On the other hand, a huge percentage of leaders from his party decided to endorse his candidacy for this seat.The senator's resignation gave the New Progressive Party a seat it could fill, so Rosselló announced his intentions of filling the vacancy and, after other aspirants were disqualified, officially assumed duties as a Senator of Puerto Rico on February 13, 2005.

Prior to assuming office, Rosselló announced his intentions to remove Senate President Kenneth McClintock and be elected to replace him. An internal power struggle within the New Progressive Party between Rosselló and McClintock led to a split within the NPP Senate delegation in May 2005. After a caucus meeting, eleven of the seventeen senators elected by the New Progressive Party voted for Rosselló, with the other six boycotting the meeting. McClintock and five other senators, Orlando Parga, Luz Arce, Migdalia Padilla, Carlos Díaz, and Jorge de Castro Font, refused to follow the caucus' decision, denying the unanimous consent required by Senate Rules 2 and 6 to remove a President, thus permitting McClintock to remain as Senate President. The party directorate subsequently recommended that McClintock, Parga, and de Castro Font be expelled from the Party, and that Arce, Padilla, and Díaz be censured and prohibited to run for re-election under the party's flag or logo. However, in August 2005 the party's General Assembly only took action to expel de Castro Font, leaving the status of McClintock and the other four senators in limbo after approving in August 2006 a generic censure resolution that did not name any officeholders by name. The sanctions were nullified by San Juan Superior Court Judge Oscar Dávila Suliveres on May 8, 2007. The Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, in a 5-to-1 decision, affirmed the lower court decision. All the disciplined senators who ran for renomination, except for Díaz Olivo, were renominated in the March 2008 primary and went on to win the general elections.

On January 16, 2007, Rosselló led the party caucus in the Senate to a reprimand of two more NPP senators, fellow Arecibo senator José Emilio González and Bayamón senator Carmelo Ríos for voting in favor of a concurrent resolution proposing a constitutional amendment that would turn Puerto Rico's bicameral legislature into a unicameral legislative system, increasing the number of reprimanded caucus members to eight of the total of sixteen elected in 2004. Both González and Rios expressed their lack of concern over the reprimand and were handily renominated in the March 2008 primary and reelected in the November 2008 general election..

March against U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico

Pedro Rosselló (center) in the March against U.S. Colonialism.

On February 21, 2006, Pedro Rosselló set out to make a stand against what he calls "U.S. persistent colonialism in Puerto Rico" by organizing a "March for the End of Colonialism" (La Marcha por el Fin de la Colonia) in an effort to emulate what Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. did in the Salt March and Selma to Montgomery marches respectively. Rosselló's comparison to the two civil rights leaders caused criticisms from the press and many others throughout the island.

The stated purpose of the march was to expose the colonial status of Puerto Rico, and exhort the United States Congress to pass a bill that would allow the self-determination of the people of Puerto Rico, with congressionally mandated non-territorial, non-colonial options. Rosselló is a vocal and prominent supporter of statehood for the island, wanting Puerto Rico to become the 51st state of the (United States). The march covered the complete perimeter of Puerto Rico, tracing its coastline for 16 days and 271.3 miles. The United States Congress has not acted on any requests from the march's organizers.

NPP Presidency

On June 7, 2007, Senator Rosselló officially ended his bid for the Senate Presidency, stating in an article in El Vocero newspaper that he was no longer interested in the post, held since 2005 by fellow party member Kenneth McClintock. On April 19, 2007, he published a third book, El Triunvirato del Poder, (The Triunvirate of Power) on the power centers that he believes control Puerto Rico's economy and government.

On April 28, 2007, Rosselló revealed to various party leaders that in March, 2006, he had signed a sworn statement assuring that he would not make a fourth run for the governorship in 2008, and that he intends to abide by the result. During the April 25, 2007 U.S. House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs hearing on Puerto Rico's political status, he was seen treating McClintock very cordially, which suggests that the tension levels between them have eased somewhat, suggesting he may want to help reunite the party as it prepares for the 2008 electoral campaign against incumbent Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá and assume a different non-elective role within the statehood movement to which he has devoted nearly two decades of his life. However, in those hearings, he acted very aggressively and departed immediately after finishing his statement. Since this occurred several days before announcing he would not seek another run for governor, many speculate that his attitude reflects his frustration that he couldn't achieve statehood for the island and his feelings that he had become a "lame duck" politician.

2008 NPP Governor's Candidacy Primary

During a PNP assembly on May 22, 2007 a large group of delegates unanimously acclaimed him as the party's candidate for Governor. Interpreting this call as a call of the party as a whole, he officially announced that the would run for Governor for the fourth time in 2008. His candidacy papers were filed at the State Elections Commission on June 1, 2007. His candidacy was contested by Luis Fortuño, the current Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, with whom he had shared the ballot in 2004. Fortuño has also announced officially his pre-candicacy for the party's nomination for governor.

In March 9, 2008, Rosselló conceded the victory to Luis Fortuño after a large margin of votes in favor of his opponent. Rosselló admitted defeat even before the votes were completely tallied claiming Fortuño as the next candidate of the PNP party, and said the following: "Thank you all for being here, in this day when the people of our Party have made a decision. I am thankful for your presence here, because to me it means that our dream still lives on. The people spoke, and their voice said that Luis Fortuño must be the candidate our Party presents for governor, and the one who leads our Party as its President. The people spoke, and I must obey them. I want to congratulate Luis Fortuño, for taking his campaign to the people and obtaining their favor. Everyone of us should follow the voice of the people. I congratulate him and I wish him success leading this Party and taking our ideals to new thriumps. I see in your faces what this decision of the people means to you, but I am grateful to you for fighting together with me along the path. Later on, I expect to say thanks to each of you individually. I am thankful from the bottom of my heart".

On March 10, 2008, Rosselló sent the media a written statement regarding his future in which he confirmed he will be retiring from active politics and will not be campaigning for any candidate, however he will finish his term as senator. [3]

Gubernatorial library

Groundbreaking ceremonies on November 7, 2007, fifteen years after his first election as Governor, marked the beginning of the construction of the Pedro Rosselló Gubernatorial Library at Turabo University's campus in centrally-located Caguas, Puerto Rico. To be built at a cost of $3.5 million, half of that through legislative appropriations, Puerto Rico's second gubernatorial library will house documents currently stored in 5,000 boxes. While the library is built, a reenactment of former Gov. Pedro Rosselló's office at La Fortaleza, the Governor's Mansion, has been built on campus and is open to the public. Former First Lady Maga Rosselló participated in the ceremony, as well as the Ana G. Méndez University System president José Méndez.

Personal life

Rosselló married Irma Margarita "Maga" Neváres on August 9, 1969. They have three sons: Oscar (b. 1971), Luis Roberto (b. 1973), and Ricardo (b. 1979) and several grandchildren. The family’s roots in Puerto Rico go back several generations, to ancestors who migrated from Mallorca, Balearic Islands, an archipelago of Spanish islands in the Mediterranean.[4]

Publications

  • Campos, Cielos y Flamboyanes: Con Pedro Rosselló de 1988 a 1997 - ISBN 1881714098. Published in 1997.
  • El Status es el Issue - biography written by Alberto Goachet and authorized by Rosselló. Published on January 12, 2005.
  • The Unfinished Business of American Democracy - published on October 27, 2005.
  • El Triunvirato del Terror - published on April 19, 2007

See also

References

  1. ^ CEEPR Plebiscito de 1998 (Spanish)
  2. ^ Court Ruling on Puerto Rico Election
  3. ^ "Puerto Rico's Rosselló to Retire". Associated Press. 2008-03-10. http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5ipfwJLzWR3hP3d3RSjxE9EKbtXowD8VAS0UO0. Retrieved 2008-03-11.  
  4. ^ A new prescription for Puerto Rico

External links

Preceded by
Rafael Hernández Colón
Governor of Puerto Rico
1993-2001
Succeeded by
Sila Calderón

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